Most movies head into their final month before opening with photos, teasers, and trailers having already been released, but Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” is not most movies. The film opens next month, and yet we hardly know anything about it except for the cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris) and a one-sentence plot description that reads: “A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.”
Over the last month, it’s become clear that “mother!” is Aronofsky’s most secretive movie to date. Paramount hasn’t dropped a single photo, nor have they even confirmed which characters the actors are playing. The studio suspiciously bumped up the release date from October to September just last month, most likely to avoid the chance of spoilers getting out between the movie’s festival run at Venice and TIFF and its theatrical release.
The official trailer is set to debut August 8, but you shouldn’t expect anything to be revealed in it. All that has been marketed is one 30-second teaser trailer and two character posters, one for Jennifer Lawrence and one for Javier Bardem. If you glance at all three, the only thing that becomes clear is that Aronofsky is getting back to his horror roots, but if you really pay close attention you’ll realize the minimal marketing has been far crazier than you think.
Both character posters are loaded with tiny easter eggs. Get past the image of Lawrence holding her own heart in her hands and you’ll notice hiding in the grass a small picture frame with what looks to be Bardem’s character, plus a jewelry box wedged inside one of the flower petals. Bardem’s poster features screaming faces in the flames and the image of a baby inside the orb he’s holding.
All of these easter eggs are cryptic and will probably make more sense once the movie is released, but the one hidden detail both posters share might be the most revealing. Each one sheet includes a lock with an image on it that looks extremely like the symbol for Pisces. The zodiac character for Pisces is two fish, and the implication of what this easter egg could mean starts to tease something ambitious about “mother!”
The legend of Pisces tells the story of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, and her son, Eros. Depending on which legend you’re reading, the two either turned into fishes or were rescued by two fish after Typhon, the deadliest monster in Greek mythology, descended on Mount Olympus seeking destruction. “mother!” probably isn’t going to be a retelling of the Pisces myth, but it can’t be a coincidence that one poster features Lawrence (a goddess of beauty) and the other a baby (a.k.a. Eros). The “uninvited guests” who “disturb” the character’s existence sound a lot like Typhon, too.
Pisces can also refer to the astrological age, which began 1 AD and will end 2150 AD. Because this age includes the birth of Christ, many symbols in Christianity use the image of fishes to represent Jesus. Aronofsky has long been obsessed with Biblical themes — they’ve showed up in everything from “Pi” to “Noah” — and it now seems very likely that “mother!” will be no exception. The Pisces lock could mean “mother!” will be Aronofsky’s most subversively Biblical movie to date.
Lawrence’s poster does look very Garden of Eden-like, while Bardem’s is clearly representative of hell. Perhaps “mother!” is Aronofsky’s Biblical parable about the creation of good and evil, Christ and the antichrist. The Pisces easter egg seems to the be the closest the movie’s marketing has come to revealing some of the cards Aronofsky is holding so close to his chest. It’s safe to assume he has something mythological and/or Biblical up his sleeve with this one, but exactly what remains a mystery.
In addition to this clue, Collider found one crazy easter egg in the most unexpected place. The movie’s Instagram account put up a part of Bardem’s poster with some audio where his character screams, “All I wanted to do was bring life into this house!” The dialogue and the loud background noise loop three times.
Things get crazy when you see the audio as a spectrogram, which visually represents the spectrum of the sound’s frequencies. Collider ran Bardem’s dialogue and the background noise through a pro audio tool and the resulting spectrogram was insanely horrifying.
The sound creates images of what look like Bardem’s face, which is crazy. We have no idea what this could possibly mean about the movie, but the fact that Bardem’s character is living inside the film’s audio suggests he is far more mythical and/or powerful than just Lawrence’s husband. Perhaps “mother!” is Aronofsky’s spin on “Rosemary’s Baby,” with Bardem and all the visitors trying to force Lawrence to birth the devil.
We’re going to have to wait until “mother!” debuts to figure out what exactly Aronofsky has planned for us, but the marketing so far is doing a hell of a job at sparking fan theories.
“mother!” opens September 15 in theaters nationwide.